China Poised to Make Investing in Film Industry Easier
China's ruling Communist elite has begun a key meeting in Beijing that should open up the country's entertainment industry, but Hollywood execs shouldn't expect any dramatic easing of censorship anytime soon.
Leading industry insiders believe reforms coming from the four-day closed-door meeting, called the Third Plenum, are likely to make it easier to invest in the Chinese film industry, including investment from overseas.
Currently, there are major barriers to foreign investment in many industries, but especially the entertainment business.
"If you fast forward five years it's going to be more open," predicted Yu Dong, CEO of the Bona Group.
Many reforms will be economic.
Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO of Relativity Media, which partners with IDG in China, believes reform of the currency to make the yuan a transferable currency would be a big help.
"There appears now to be some loosening at the government level, and if that happens, there will be a ton of money coming out of China," he told the AFM financing forum.
Beyond financing, there is pressure from within the industry to relax censorship as well.
Top director Feng Xiaogang left more than his handprints and footprints outside the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood -- he also made a highly public complaint that Chinese censors were holding back the nation's film industry.
The Film Bureau insists it is trying to become more accessible and open.
Hong Kong director Dante Lam is at AFM to promote That Demon Within, about a police officer who becomes a killer, a theme that would normally be impossible to get past the censors.
"With just a few minor changes, the movie was passed by the censors," Lam told The Hollywood Reporter.
Of course, China is keen that any changes to current censorship guidelines still project an image that regulators approve of.
China Film Co-Production Company president Zhang Xun said China "wants to see positive Chinese images."